Wills can present a number of challenges. Not only do you have to plan the content of your will, liaise with solicitors and will writers to get it drawn up, and finally get it signed and witnessed, but you also have to store the will in a secure place where the relevant parties can find it. Although keeping an updated will without a doubt a sensible and considerate thing to do, nobody said it would be an easy process (both emotionally and logistically). Storing a will is one of the many difficulties that you may encounter along the way.
How should you go about storing your will? Which method of storage is the most appropriate? Who will retrieve your will when it needs to be executed? And how will they gain access to it? Keeping a will in safe storage is not like keeping your monthly tax returns in a filing cabinet, because the will is a document that bears special requirements. Since wills are so important, they should be kept in a hard copy format and stored securely in a safe and reliable place. Furthermore, wills should always be made accessible to the executors (and only the executors) in the event that they are needed and you are not there to point anyone in the right direction.
It can be tough to achieve this balance of security and accessibility, especially through more ‘high-security’ means of storage like deposit boxes and ‘low-security’ means that simply involve keeping the will in your home. But if you don’t have this balance your will is more likely to be compromised or lost. As such, we’ll be looking at some of the best ways to store your will that guarantee it remains protected against the wrong hands and accessible to the right ones.
Most solicitors offer a will storage service from their offices, which makes the most sense if your solicitor is also the executor of the will. If your executor is someone else (e.g. a family member), it is of crucial importance that they know the exact location of your will so that it doesn’t get lost, thus delaying the fulfilment of your wishes. This is especially important if you move your will. Unlike permanent government bodies (see below), solicitors can move office or cease trading, thereby forcing the relocation of all wills held under their care. Should this happen to your will, make sure you update all executors on the new location to prevent them from losing track.
The cost of storing a will with a solicitor depends on whether or not they initially wrote the will. That is, if the solicitors did not write your will they may charge for the service whereas if they did write the will they are more likely to offer storage for free. Most solicitors offer lifetime storage, although this is conditional upon whether or not the solicitors firm will actually last a lifetime (more corporate firms are more likely to stick around!).
Please note that storing your will with a solicitor will not guarantee the best level of security. Some will keep their documents in fireproof safes in locked rooms guarded by 24hr CCTV, whereas most will simply use standard storage boxes.
If you live in England or Wales, you are able to safely store your will with the Probate Service (part of HM Courts & Tribunals Service). As the official government body in charge of probate, the service offers to keep wills for safekeeping at the Principal Probate Registry in London. There is a one-off change of £20 for depositing a will, which can be done by post or in person. There are no further charges for withdrawing or editing your will.
Since the Probate Service is a centralised government office, it removes the need to transfer your will between different solicitors offices or deposit boxes (e.g. if you were to move locations). In other words, you and your executors will know exactly where your will is being kept at all times because there is no need to change the condition of its storage – this means no complications in the event that your will needs to be activated
While your will can easily be located and withdrawn from the Probate Service by your executors after your death, only you can withdraw the will during your lifetime – a somewhat slow process which requires you to fill in a PA7A form and post it along with the original certificate of deposit. This could be problematic when you are unable to cut through the red tape yourself and instead need someone to act on your behalf as the executors will only be able to request your will in the event of your death.
Self storage and document storage services can offer a secure means of keeping your will safe. Services of this nature offer the most reliable balance of security, accessibility, and affordability, often providing their customers with top-of-the-line storage measures. Here at Flexible Storage, our site features a number of high security vaults comprised of thick steel units. These units are protected against both fire and water damage and made even more secure by 24 hour CCTV. With such high levels of protection, there is simply no chance of your will being compromised.
Should you need to withdraw your will in order review your requirements and make changes, each of the records stored at our facility can be retrieved upon request through a simple collection service (involving our efficient document scanning and barcode identification system). Likewise, we are able to upload your will to an online document management system so that you can view a scanned copy of your will as and when it’s necessary. If you do edit your will, we’re more than happy to securely shred your old will and place your updated will into storage. And to top all of this off, we offer the entire package at a very competitive price.
We’re not just being biased. Regardless of the company you end up entrusting with your wills, we truly think that document storage services are among the most reliable means of keeping sensitive materials safe while enjoying both low costs and some peace of mind. That being said, why not save time and get in touch with the Flexible Storage team right now by clicking here?